A/N - In keeping with the spirit of oneshots, here's one I've found the time to work on over the holiday weekend. Because the twins, I think, needed to have a chat with the Marauders. Set during OotP, all errors are my own, and I still don't own a thing. Alright, read, review, enjoy!
The kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place had emptied out rather quickly after the meeting, most Order members in a hurry to reach home before the weather worsened. Fred and George Weasley, however, had insisted on staying in the kitchen until they were quite ready to go to bed. They were of age, after all, and therefore had concluded the pair of them could stay up late drinking and talking and doing magic as much as they wanted. Eventually their mother had let the matter drop, shuffling off to bed with a muttered goodnight. At this point in the evening the twins felt very accomplished, chairs leaned back and legs stretched across the table. Had they been at home, one or both of their parents would have been having fits about their treatment of the furniture, but the owner of 12 Grimmauld Place had little to no regard for the property. Sirius Black sat to George's right, at the head of the table, in precisely the same position as the twins. The former prisoner and current fugitive had at least had a haircut and decent amounts of food, but Sirius still seemed very pale and halfway to his death. Standing at the window was Professor Lupin - well, actually, he had insisted on Remus now - watching the approaching storm through the faded green curtains. George thought he looked a bit grayer than he had two years before, and he certainly still looked tired. But Remus had cheered up throughout the evening, thanks to Tonks' clumsiness and Sirius jokes. Fred had just finished a rousing account of a prank involving fireworks and color changing charms, which had drawn roaring laughter from Sirius and rolling chuckles from Remus. Something passed across Sirius face as the laughter faded, an odd closed expression mirrored by Remus'. Both men suddenly looked to be deep in thought, and Remus left his place at the window and seated himself to Sirius' right. Even in a patched and faded jumper, the moment Remus steepled his fingers on the table and fixed George, then Fred, with a steady look, he was suddenly Professor Lupin once more.
"If you don't mind my asking, how precisely did you come across such a convenient passage?"
George suddenly found great interest in the tabletop, fighting to suppress a smirk. Fred seemed to be having the same difficulty. A sideways look passed between Remus and Sirius, who now seemed to have taken a sudden interest in the topic.
"That's an excellent question Remus. Sounds like that would've been hard to find. Behind a tapestry, you said?"
"Yeah," Fred shrugged, "Turns out there's more than one way out of the dungeons."
"Comes in handy," George agreed, still looking down, not at the tabletop, but at the phantom images of the Marauder's Map.
"But how did you find it?" Sirius pressed, legs slipping off the table and onto the floor as he leaned in. Remus still watched the twins with his fingers' steepled, eyes bright, and George turned to his brother with a cheery grin. There seemed to be no way to escape the inevitable.
"Suppose we might as well Fred."
"Not like there's much they can do."
"Care to do the honors then, George?"
"It would be my pleasure," George cleared his throat, then raised his wand and dimmed the light in the kitchen. The action cast the room into shadow, broken occasionally by sharp bursts of lightning as thunder rumbled louder outside. "We...found a map."
"Did you now?" Remus raised an eyebrow.
"First year," George declared proudly, recalling the incident as clearly as though the map's retrieval had happened only days before.
"Nicked it from Filch's office," Fred added.
"Have you still got it?" Sirius asked. A sudden, eager light had flared in the grey eyes, and George felt truly sorry that they had given the map away. Seldom did Sirius Black ever look particularly alive these days. Fred shook his head, tapping his wand on the table as rain began to pound down on the ceiling.
"Nah, we gave it to Harry. Figured he needed it more than us."
"That rubbish uncle of his and all."
Sirius, who had at first looked disappointed, cheered up considerably at this announcement. For some reason, Remus was grinning and shaking his head.
"I just wish we could've met them," George sighed. He and Fred had been trying to track down the Marauders for years, but for some reason none of the teachers seemed willing to divulge names. Especially not Professor Snape, who had gone dangerously pale and ordered them out of his office at once. Perhaps, George mused, someone in the Order would know.
"Met who?" Sirius snapped to attention, eyes narrowed and sharply eager.
"The mapmakers of course," Fred had to speak loudly over another roll of thunder.
"They're our heroes," George once again saw the map unfolded in front of him, the name's of the makers emblazoned on the front. Remus was smiling crookedly, all trace of tiredness suddenly vanished.
"Do these illustrious mapmakers have names?"
George glanced to Fred, briefly conferring in whispered tones as to whether or not Sirius and Remus might be of use in tracking down the Marauders. They entirely missed the matching smirks that passed between the two adults. Upon reaching agreement, the twins returned their attention to the table.
"Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs," Fred counted off on his fingers.
"And we were sort of wondering," George said slowly.
"If you happened to know them," Fred's feet hit the floor with a thud, echoed as George's did the same, and both the twins leaned in now, elbows propped on the table. Sirius was laughing again and Remus had adopted an expression that feigned innocence.
"I do believe we've met."
George felt as though the bottom had dropped from his stomach. Apparently, someone in the Order knew the Marauders after all. Two someones in fact.
"Merlin, are you serious? How did you meet them?"
"Well," Sirius glanced to Remus for a moment, both adults grinning excitedly. "They were at school with us, actually. In our very year."
"Tell us about them!" Fred said eagerly. "What were they like?"
Sirius snorted, a far away look in his eyes. George had a feeling that the question had summoned up memories that Sirius had long left untouched.
"Which one? There were four of...them."
Never one to submit to the proper order of things, George clapped his hands together and grinned.
"Start from the end then. Mr. Prongs."
Remus' smile faded a bit, and Sirius suddenly looked pained.
"Well...Mr. Prongs was...the sort of unofficial leader," Remus began, looking to Sirius to finish the explanation. Thunder rumbled louder, and Sirius murmured something that was entirely lost in the roll of noise. The thunder passed, and Sirius cleared his throat and tried again.
"He had a certain talent for trouble. Really a brilliant prankster. Played Quidditch too," Sirius grinned proudly now. "And the map was his idea."
"What house was he in?" Fred asked.
"Gryffindor," Sirius seemed slightly surprised by the question. "They were all Gryffindors."
George was quite pleased to know this, especially since he and Fred had always been afraid that the map had been made by Slytherins.
"Alright, so then...Mr. Padfoot. What was he like? I always pictured him being a bit odd."
George had always been quite pleased with this theory. Remus, however choked back a laugh at statement, earning a glare from Sirius, and he coughed a time or two before continuing.
"Actually, Padfoot was always a little too full of energy. Always needed to be doing something. Got a little frustrating some of the time, honestly. And he slept with a teddy bear," Remus added lightly.
"He did not!" Sirius shouted. "You're thinking of...Wormtail. And Padfoot was the devilishly handsome member, for the record."
"Rubbish," Remus leaned back in his seat, eyes alight now. "That was Mr. Moony. Or at least Mr. Prongs."
Sirius seethed in his seat for a brief moment, and George was afraid that Remus might be hexed in the next few seconds. Remus, however, seemed entirely unconcerned, and the moment passed, Sirius' glare melting into barking laughter.
"Could we at least agree...that Padfoot was the one who kept things interesting?"
"Absolutely," Remus nodded, "And I would also add that Padfoot was a deeply loyal friend."
Sirius shot Remus an odd, pained look before returning his attention to the twins.
"Mr. Wormtail," Fred said quickly, eager to move on. Sirius, however, scowled once more, and this time even Remus looked troubled.
"A follower," Sirius declared. "Always hanging around people who were better."
Remus shifted in his seat, and must have kicked Sirius under the table.
"What Sirius meant to say was, Wormtail was always following the other boys around. He could be brave when he wanted to be, when he had to be. And he always did manage to come up with good excuses when they got caught."
Sirius was still glaring at the table, apparently willing the old wood to burst into flame. Remus, too, seemed uncomfortable in the sudden, stiff silence, and George cleared his throat abruptly. Clearly Mr. Wormtail had not been the most popular of the Marauders.
"Alright so then Mr. Moony. What about him?"
"I like to think Moony got dragged into things against his will," Remus said lightly, smirking. Sirius returned the kick from earlier, earning a sharp intake of breath from Remus as Sirius' foot connected with his shin.
"Prat," Sirius muttered, then grinned brightly and turned his attention back to the twins. "Don't let Remus fool you, Moony came up with half the pranks. Always surprised people, he did."
"It's the quiet ones you've got to watch out for," Remus agreed with a nod and a tilt of his head.
Remus and Sirius once again seemed to be lost in memory, rain pounding on the ceiling and thunder rumbling overhead. George, for his part, was utterly enraptured by the conversation. Based on Fred's expression, the feeling was mutual.
"So they were all great friends?"
"They were," Remus agreed quietly. "Since their first year, I believe."
"They were legends even while they were at school," Sirius seemed quite proud of this fact. "Brilliant, funny, good-looking. Well, except for Wormtail. He was a bit of the round side."
George choked back a laugh at this, imagining the four Marauders now, wandering through the castle in the dark, wands lit and the map opened in their hands. Suddenly George wanted to know more, to make the boys of so many years ago more real.
"So did they all play Quidditch, or just Mr. Prongs?"
Remus groaned and covered his face with one hand.
"Oh, Mr. Moony played too, in sixth and seventh year."
"If I recall correctly, Mr. Prongs convinced him to playing seeker," Sirius grinned viciously.
"Bullied him into it, Sirius," Remus sighed. "There was definite bullying involved."
"But he was a good seeker," Sirius admitted grudgingly. "They won the Cup both years."
"Really?" Fred and George said at precisely the same time. "Brilliant"
"It was quite exciting," Remus admitted. He glanced over to Sirius, and the pair of them seemed to be sharing some memory of Quidditch victory when Fred interrupted once more.
"Did the prefects ever give them trouble?"
"Oh," Sirius grinned viciously again, "Mr. Moony was a prefect, actually."
George gasped, and Fred clapped a hand over his mouth in mock surprise.
"You don't say!"
"Don't worry," Remus grumbled, "Moony was, quite possibly, the worst prefect in school history. Never did much disciplining of the other boys."
"Now that's not true," Sirius shook his head, "Moony actually held the power to make Padfoot and Prongs feel quite guilty, with his important prefect lectures and all."
Remus offered a small smile and did not bother trying to argue. Fred, meanwhile, pressed on.
"What was their best prank?"
Sirius tilted his head in thought, and Remus closed his eyes. Both men were, at least, still smiling.
"The Library Incident, sixth year," Sirius said firmly. "The Ravenclaws had fits."
Remus opened one eye and frowned spectacularly in the direction of his friend.
"No, the Halloween Ball, fourth year. For creativity and excellent use of fireworks."
"Ah, that's a one as well."
Remus gave a mock bow and a laugh, then fell silent, glancing over his shoulder toward the window. Sirius, too, had fallen quiet, once again reminiscing of his school years. George rapped his fingers on the table and finally asked the question that had been bothering him for some time.
"So...what happened to them?"
Sirius' grin vanished entirely, and Remus' faded to a small, sad smile.
"Well...seventh year Prongs was named Head Boy, and he started dating the girl he'd been in love with for years," Remus explained slowly. "So there was a little less pranking."
"They didn't break up did they?" George's eyes went wide at the thought.
"No, they didn't. Not to worry. Padfoot and Prongs, you see, were best mates, and not even a girl could come between them," Sirius answered confidently.
"They graduated, and Prongs got married," Remus continued the story, his voice growing quieter, as though the subject had become painful.
"They all joined the Order," Sirius said gruffly. "All four of them."
George could imagine the boys, men now, barely out of school and being sent away on missions against the Death Eaters. He now had a distinctly bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, and was beginning to see why none of the teachers would speak of the Marauders.
"Prongs and his wife were killed," Remus said softly, the rain nearly drowning out the words. "And Mr. Wormtail wound up joining the Death Eaters."
George gasped sharply, fists pounding on the table at the same time as his twin's.
"What about the others? Moony and Padfoot?"
"Padfoot died," Sirius said shortly. "He's been dead a long time."
"Mr. Moony is still living, however," Remus frowned at Sirius. "Though I would imagine he's feeling rather lost in the world without his friends."
Silence fell as Remus and Sirius descended into memories once more, Sirius scowling, Remus smiling sadly and looking more tired and worn than usual. George, for his part, felt entirely stunned at the fate of the Marauders. Two dead and one a traitor. Somehow their ends seemed entirely unfair, unfair for boys who had been like brothers.
Lightning flared outside, bright and white hot, and as the lightning faded so did the lights in the kitchen. Thunder rumbled in utter darkness, but before George or Fred could reach their wands, the ghosts had appeared. Shimmering around the edges, more life-like than any ghost George had ever seen, two now sat where Remus and Sirius had been moments before. At the head of the table reclined a handsome boy with dark wavy hair and sharp grey eyes, a Gryffindor tie loose around his neck. To his left was a boy with sandy brown hair and a mischievous look in his blue eyes. The map lay open between them, the sandy haired boy prodding the parchment with his wand. Then two more boys ran through the wall, a thin boy with messy black hair and crooked glasses followed closely by a round, blond boy who seemed to be making an effort to keep up.
"Come on Moony! Padfoot!"
The boy with glasses had shouted and sounded very far away, even though he only stood across the table. Eager and ready, the boy at the head of the table leaped to his feet, followed closely by the sandy haired boy who was grinning madly now. The pair chased after the bespectacled boy, vanishing into the shadows once more. And then the lights returned, revealing Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, older and tired and half-shadowed in the dim lights. Mere seconds seemed to have passed, but George glanced sideways at Fred and knew based on the pale expression that both of them had seen the ghosts. Both of them had seen the boys that had once been. Remus looked up, concerned.
"Are you alright?"
"F-fine," George managed, standing abruptly and nearly knocking the chair over in the process. "I think it's time for bed, wouldn't you say Fred?"
"I think so," Fred rose quickly, pushing his chair in with shaking hands. Even Sirius looked concerned now, and Remus seemed fairly bemused.
"Goodnight then, I suppose."
"Night," Sirius offered with a wave of his hand.
"Goodnight," Fred answered, halfway to the stairs already.
"And thank you," George added hastily.
"You're quite welcome," Remus smiled warmly.
And then the twins were racing up the stairs, leaving the last of the Marauders behind in the kitchen, thunder still rumbling overhead.